“… for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
(Philippians 2:13)


God@Work in the life of Linda Jones

Then, three major life events altered her circumstances and in the process changed her heart.

Linda grew up in a turbulent household. Her father was abusive and had mood swings that were unpredictable. For the most part, living at home during her adolescent years was stifling and not comforting.

She was raised Catholic with her two sisters and an older brother. She did attend church with her family; however, after they received their church sacraments, the family was no longer required to attend mass. At a young age, Linda was drawn to the music and the homily and continued to go to church on her own. She would walk a mile and a half to get to church and found it very comforting amid all the strife at home.

As a young girl, Linda was very shy and meek. She described herself as a “wilted flower.” Fortunately, her third grade teacher took an interest in Linda and had a very positive impact on her. “She impacted me so much that I decided, 25 years later, to thank her for all that she did for me. Together with my three-year-old son, I visited her at the school. She did remember me and told me that I was so quiet in class that if she didn’t take attendance, she wouldn’t know I was there.”

As years went by, Linda’s life was characterized by change: changes in both careers (earning seven professional licenses) and residences (moving 15 times). She began singing in the church choir 30 years ago and has enjoyed the stability and peace that has provided her during all the changes in her life. “Music and my choir family did bring me closer to God; however, at that time, I was not in the Word, nor was I committed to seeking God.”

Then, three major life events altered her circumstances and in the process changed her heart. After her divorce, Linda met several God-centered people — all while singing in the church choir in Westwood, NJ. During a retreat, a parish priest pointedly asked her, “What’s your relationship with the Lord?” Linda remembers this as the first time she was given permission to be upset with God. “From that point on, I began to have a more authentic relationship with God. At times, fully trusting and relying on God was my only option.” Linda began reading the Bible in earnest, but it wasn’t until her bout with cancer that she knew in her heart that God was her Savior, her Healer, and her Deliverer.

One week prior to being diagnosed with cancer, Linda sat in her car in an old church parking lot during lunch hour on a beautiful spring day. Instead of rushing back to the stresses of the office, she decided to go over her sheet music for an upcoming concert. “I closed my eyes to rest and saw an image of Jesus. All I could see was his face: his sculpted cheekbones, his beautiful eyes, and his long hair. Behind him was a dark oak-like arch. He appeared so peaceful and serene. I opened my eyes and then quickly closed them to get that moment back, but it wasn’t there. I did realize that a great calm had come over me.” Linda thought the incident curious, but a week later when she was told she had cancer, she realized that this vision was divine intervention. Jesus was preparing her for the days ahead and telling her it was all going to be okay. “I felt as though God wanted my attention.”

During her cancer treatments, her white blood cell count plunged lower. The doctor ordered another drug, Neupogen, but Linda was concerned about its effects. As part of a cycling group, she had signed up to participate in a 100-mile cycling trip that began in Cape May. She asked her doctor if the new drug would hinder or prohibit her bike riding. The doctor, surprised to hear of her activity, didn’t realize she was a cyclist. He canceled the drug order and told her to come back in ten days. “At this point, I just surrendered to the outcome.” After ten days, her blood count was taken again. “While I was waiting for my next chemo infusion, I noticed some commotion going on in the lab with the chemo nurses. They were hovering over my lab results with dropped jaws.” Linda’s blood cell count was back to normal! This was an extraordinary outcome ― a miracle really. Linda, more than ever, realized how mighty and merciful God is and believed in God’s steadfast love for her.

“I remind myself that He can turn scars into stars, trials into treasures, and the present is a present regardless of my circumstances.”

After these two life-changing events, the circumstance of unemployment tested her faith and strengthened her trust in the Lord. Linda moved from North Jersey to Hainesport and then Maple Shade two and a half years ago. She knew she wanted to attend FAC since she had visited the church throughout the years while visiting family in the area. Now years later, “I was sitting in the middle row while Pastor Marty was talking about fellowship and the importance of getting involved in a miniChurch. He said that growth cannot take place outside of fellowship with others. I thought Pastor Marty was looking right at me.” As she drove home that Sunday, she thought getting involved was a good idea but thought it best to wait until her life settled down and she had secured a steady job.

The following week, the same thing happened as she felt the laser look from Pastor Marty. “This time I didn’t wait. I actually jumped right in!” Linda joined the choir, a miniChurch and a women’s group. “I can’t put into words the value of these groups ― the friendships that have been formed and the love, nourishment, and support that we share with each other. I consider them my extended family.”

Linda knows that trusting God and enduring unanswered prayers is not easy, but she believes that a delay is not a denial and that God knows what He’s doing and that it is all for a purpose. “In this waiting period I’m in, I remind myself that He can turn scars into stars, trials into treasures, and the present is a present regardless of my circumstances.”

Today Linda continues to sing, singing with joy. “No Longer Slaves” and “Spirit of the Living God” are two of her favorite songs. Through all of her circumstances, she knows that God is actively at work in her life.

“I’ve come to realize that we trust people that we know. How can I trust God if I don’t really know him? Priscilla Shirer, a women’s conference speaker, gave a great example of what mother zebras do so that they can know and identify their young. She told us that mother zebras take their young one at a time and go off by themselves away from distractions. Then the mother and baby stop and stand opposite each other. The mother zebra stares at the young zebra until she memorizes her baby’s stripes. Likewise, the baby memorizes the mother. That way, no matter what, they will be able to recognize each other if they’re ever separated. This is how I want to know God. I want to seek him closely with my whole heart and trust him completely.”

Linda feels the love of God daily. Sometimes it’s a veil of protection that provides tremendous peace; other times it’s a “kiss from heaven” from a stranger, friend, or family member. Either way and no matter what, says Linda, “My life has turned around and God is now number one in my life!” ·